[THE FOUNTAIN] The Burdens a Son Must BearWhen talking about the son of the president, the first person who comes to my mind is the son of John F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr. People around the world shed tears when they saw the 3-year-old son of the assassinated U.S. president salute before his father's coffin in November 1963. John F. Kennedy Jr. died two years ago in an airplane crash, which again shook Americans.
On the other end of the spectrum, Jean Claude Duvalier, former president of Haiti, happens to be the notorious son of a dictator. The younger Duvalier, who was known as Baby Doc, was named president for life in 1971 at age 19, succeeding his father, Francois Duvalier, known as Father Doc. However, after all kinds of misdeeds, the younger Duvalier was forced down and fled to exile in France in 1986.
In our history, with many ups and downs, the sons of presidents often lived turbulent lives. Lee Gang-seok, an adopted son of former President Syngman Rhee, was so "highly esteemed" that there were cases of fraud in which some people used his identity. However, Mr. Lee committed suicide after he killed his biological parents during a civil upheaval in 1960 called the April 19 Students' Uprising. His father, Lee Ki-bung, was speaker of the assembly at the time of his death.
Park Ji-man, son of former President Park Chung Hee, became a drug addict, shocked by the assassinations of his parents. Kim Hyun-chul, second son of former President Kim Young-sam, was sentenced to prison for his involvement in fraud.
Now, there is controversy over Kim Hong-il, eldest son of President Kim Dae-jung. Before the opposition party used his full name, newspapers often used his initial "K" in reporting his alleged connection to fraud. Now the ruling party and the opposition party are clashing over this issue.
Kim Hong-il has delivered his thoughts in a book published last month. The tone is spiteful. "Being the son of a president is more of a yoke than honor and unhappiness than happiness." He expressed frustration, saying "Just because I have a father who is president do I have to live like an idiot with money from my father and end my life like this?" "I hope society becomes mature and considerate enough to let me live with dignity." He is right. A democratic society should not and cannot put limits on the sons of its leaders.
However, he should face the undeniable reality that society will not treat the son of its president like common people. He should watch his words and behavior accordingly. Keeping company with the right people is his moral duty in a way. Is this not the burden of having a great father?
The writer is Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yoo Jae-sik